The Mr. Nightcrawler Trilogy: Book I


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Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 02:05 AM
Through the darkness, we silently made our way across the snow-covered pasture. The few cows that were around didn’t seem to mind our presence. What had earlier been a gentle breeze had turned into an icy north wind, but this too worked in our favor. The wind covered the sounds of our approach, and brought with it cloud cover. The night was dark and the sky was overcast.

The team was spread out into a wide ‘V’ formation, with myself on point. Corwin was behind me and well to my right. Jeff was opposite him on my left. Farther back and farther out on each side were Michel and Shen, and directly behind me, (though more than a few meters distant) was Ling. I was wearing a heavy pair of Russian night vision goggles that Ling had provided me with, as were Corwin and Jeff. To me, the night was lit up in a sea of green light, and I could see the farm house glaring through the trees, some three-quarters of a mile distant.

I paused momentarily, breathing heavier than I’d expected. I looked back at my friends, and they seemed to be experiencing the same thing. Damn we were out of shape! I smiled silently to myself, shook my head, and then continued onward. My thoughts were interrupted by radio chatter. It was just our three snipers and the machine gun team telling us that they were in place and standing by.

“Alpha One copies,” I heard Ling say, her voice distinctive over the radio.

“Bravo One copies,” Ibrahim said then. His team was on the other side of the farm, approaching from the opposite direction.

“Echo Team, this is Alpha One,” Ling said then, whispering over the radio, “Can you give us an update?”

“Roger,” the Echo Team sniper said. I was surprised to hear a woman’s voice, with a thick Russian accent. “There are many vehicles present. I see one small truck, probably security patrol, returning from the back fields. The yard around the house is well lit, but there is an outbuilding to the east. If you approach from behind that, you will have cover…” She then let fly a Russian expletive that I didn’t understand.

“Status?” Ibrahim said.

“There are two targets leaving the farm house. Target one is great huge fat man in a white suit, target two is a skinny woman in a tuxedo, carrying a poodle.”

“Woman?” Ibrahim said.

“Uh…negative,” the Echo sniper said. “I was wrong, is not woman, is man with poodle. Do I have permission to engage?”

“Do they have a captive with them?” Ling asked, tension obvious in her voice.

“Negative. Is just two men. They’re heading for a vehicle.”

“Hold fire, Echo Team,” Ling said. “We’re not close enough yet. Let them go.”

“Roger,” the Echo sniper said, disappointment obvious in her voice. “Is your lucky day you bastards.” We all smiled at that, and continued on.

“Alpha One, Alpha Six,” I said, a few minutes later. “There’s a drainage ditch or something perpendicular to us, about thirty meters ahead. The far bank is steep, looks like a dirt road crossing the property. We’ve got a vehicle approaching from the South. It’s a ways off, but it’s on the road. We should take cover in the ditch.”

“Agreed,” Ling said. “Everyone move as quickly as you can, get to that ditch and get down. Move!” With that, we all took off running. A few moments later I slid down into the ditch. The little bit of water at the bottom was frozen; the far bank was steep, and taller than the near one. The road was built up slightly higher than the property it crossed, probably in case of flooding. I looked up, peering over the surface of the road. My heart dropped into my stomach when I realized that the approaching truck was a hell of a lot closer than I’d thought. The night vision goggles had distorted my depth perception.

“Alpha Team! Danger close!” I hissed into my radio. “Everybody get down!” Corwin and Jeff had just made it into the ditch, a few meters away on either side of me, but the others went prone into the field and laid still.

My heart was racing as the vehicle, a Jeep, drew close. Its headlights blinded my night vision goggles, so I slid them up on my head and blinked. I could feel my heart pounding in my ears as the vehicle slowly passed us by, from left to right. Then it stopped. ****.

The Jeep was now a few meters to my right, on the road above me, between Corwin and I. Illuminated in its bright headlights was a large black and white dairy cow. The cow was standing in the road, blocking it, and didn’t seem terribly inclined to move. The Jeep honked its horn several times, but the cow ignored it and kept chewing its cud.

I heard doors slam as two men got out of the Jeep and approached the stubborn bovine. A swath of obscenities rolled through my mind.

“Matthew,” I said into my radio, as quietly as I possibly could, “I’m going to cut around the back of the jeep. On my signal, you take the guy closer to you. I’ll circle around and get the other guy. Copy?”

“Mm-hmm,” was Corwin’s only reply. The two men were practically on top of him, and he didn’t want to make any more noise than necessary. I closed my eyes for a moment. I felt my senses seem to sharpen, and my heart rate slowed. I calmly unsnapped my rifle sling, and silently laid my FAL down in a way that would prevent the muzzle from getting dirt in it. I then, ever so slowly, crawled up the bank of the ditch, feeling out each inch of dirt beneath me.

“MOO-OO-OO!” One of the frustrated men yelled at the cow. The cow replied with a moo if its own, and continued chewing.

“****ing cow!” the other man said. “I’m going to shoot the damned thing!”

“Better not,” the first man said. “You heard the boss. No shots unless necessary.” As I crept around the back of the jeep, illuminated in the red glow of the tail lights, I noticed that each man was wearing green fatigue pants, a black fleece, and had a stubby G36K assault rifle slung across his back. Neither had his weapon ready, and both men were facing away from me. I made my way around the jeep, and up the driver’s side, stopping by the vehicle’s side-view mirror. I was as close as I was going to get. I reached to the right shoulder of my harness and unsnapped the long SRK fighting knife there. I flipped the knife in my hand, holding it point-down, and whispered into my radio.

“Now.” Corwin didn’t hesitate. A dark shape appeared behind the man to my right, who was closest to the ditch. A thin strand of wire briefly flashed in the glow of the headlights, then snapped around the man’s neck. He gurgled, reached for his throat, and then disappeared as Corwin dragged him down into the ditch.

The man to my left saw this at the last instant, but it was too late for him as well. His concentration was on the darkness as he frantically tried to bring his weapon around. He didn’t see me approach from his five o’ clock position.

My right hand, clad in a leather glove, reached around, covered his mouth, and pulled his head back. My left hand brought the knife around, and before the man could really struggle, plunged it downward into this throat. He dropped his rifle, tried to scream and began to thrash, but his screams came out only as bloody gurgles, and I wasn’t letting go. I pushed the knife deeper into him, and his thrashing caused me to lose my footing. We felt to the road together, with him landing on top of me. He continued to thrash and squirm; I pulled the knife out and jammed it into him again, then again, then a third time. Finally, he went limp, and I pushed him off of me.

Standing up, I realized that I had blood all over the front of my armor and on my sleeves. Cursing to myself, I wiped my blade off on the dead man’s jacket and re-sheathed it.

Stepping over to the Jeep, I turned off the headlights and cut the engine. Looking around for anything useful, I grabbed the guards’ radio, figuring it’d help us keep track of what they were doing.

“Clear,” I whispered into my microphone as I slid back down into the ditch to retrieve my rifle. We formed back up and were once again on our way.

“Nicely done, Mr. Valentine,” I heard an unfamiliar voice say over the radio. I realized a moment later that it was Shen, and that that was the first time I’d heard him speak. “It seems that wherever you walk, death follows.” I grinned in the darkness.

“Everybody’s good at something.” Sometimes it bothers me that killing is the only thing I seem to excel at.

“Quiet now,” Ling said, all business. “We’re almost there.”

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Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 02:08 AM
Lifting the night vision goggles off of my head again, I peered around the corner of the large outbuilding that we were now stacked behind. The courtyard of the farm house was brightly lit, wide open, and filled with cars.

Only a few people and a couple armed guards were visible, though. There was one guard on a balcony with a scoped rifle of some kind, and another patrolled the courtyard with a G36. Two more, these two in suits and sunglasses, stood on either side of the house’s double front doors. Jeff and Corwin had checked the out-building we were hidden behind. It contained nothing but lawn equipment.

“This is Bravo One. We’re in position,” Ibrahim said.

“Copy that. Alpha Team in position,” Ling said.

“Charlie Team ready,” our machine gun crew said.

“Delta Team ready,” one of the SVD-equipped snipers said.

“Echo Team ready,” said the female Russian sniper.

“Fox Team ready,” the sniper team to the rear of the house replied.

“Alpha One copies,” Ling said.

“Hang on a sec,” I said, interrupting.

“What is it?” she asked, obviously irritated. I retrieved the deceased guard’s radio from my belt.

“Anybody got some tape?” Ling looked puzzled as Jeff handed me a spool of electrical tape. I first put four layers of tape over the radio’s microphone. I then wadded some tape up into a ball, and placed it over the radio’s transmit button. I then wrapped tape around the radio multiple times, causing the transmit button to be held down.

“It’ll tie up their whole damn battle-net, since they probably don’t have a central transmitter that can overpower this one hand-held. They won’t be able to communicate.” Ling flashed me a devilish grin, and keyed her microphone again.

“God be with us…weapons free! Open fire!” There was a grim finality in her voice. I leaned back around the corner and brought my rifle up. I centered the red dot of my Aimpoint on the upper chest of the guard carrying the assault rifle. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the head of the guard on the balcony explode in a red cloud an and instant before the report of the Dragunov rifle could be heard. As his body flopped over the railing and fell, I squeezed my rifle’s trigger. My FAL barked loudly, and the G36-carrying guard screamed as my bullet impacted him between the shoulder blades. He fell to the ground and I put a second round into him. I turned back to my teammates. Ling was now right behind me, eyes as black as the night.

“Let’s go!” I brought my weapon up and bounded into the courtyard. Our team was to clear the main house. Ibrahim’s team was to clear the smaller secondary house to the west, then proceed into the main house once that was finished. But for a few minutes, we’d be on our own in there.

It didn’t bother me though. At that moment, nothing bothered me. There was nothing but the chaos around me and the calm within me. There was only the mission, and the excited, but professional chatter I could hear over my radio. As I dashed across the courtyard, making for the cover of a row of parked cars, I opened fire on the two guards at the door. They were now crouched down, pistols drawn. Ling opened fire on them as well, letting off short bursts from her compact assault rifle. Your accuracy is never that great when firing at a full run, though, and I don’t know which of us hit the guard, but one of them went down. The other stood up, and frantically tried to get the door open, before two holes exploded in his back nearly simultaneous. It seemed that both of our snipers had gotten the same idea.

I leaned around the front bumper of the car I was using for cover. It was a gaudy thing, a yellow Ford Mustang. The driver’s side door was open, and the engine was running. The driver was in the front seat, slumped over the steering wheel. There was a hole in the windshield, and most of the driver’s brains seemed to be in the back seat. It was a gruesome sight.

I then noticed to people huddling behind a car in front of us, a man and a woman. The man was wearing a tuxedo, and the woman was wearing some kind of evening gown, but with thigh-high leather bondage boots. Both were wearing leather masks of some kind.

What the ****…? I startled as Ling cut them down with a burst of automatic fire.

“They were here to make a purchase, Michael. Trust me.” She then turned around, and flashed an arm signal. Jeff and Corwin scrambled forward, as Ling and I used our weapons to cover the entrance to the house. My two friends were making like mad for the corner of the house, about thirty meters to our right. Once they got there, Jeff flashed a thumbs-up to Ling. She then used another arm signal, and Shen and Michel came running up to our left, taking cover behind a parked SUV about ten meters from us. Just as they hit the dirt, a shooter appeared on the balcony where the sniper had been standing. He leveled his weapon and fired a burst at us, his rounds tearing up the trunk of the Mustang and shattering the back window. Before we could return fire, a stream of tracers came from the woods, and the shooter was torn apart by the PKM machine gun that was covering us. His body seemed to smolder as he fell back into the house amongst a shower of broken glass from the door behind him.

Ling looked over at me, and I nodded at her. We stood up, and scrambled forward again. Sporadic gunfire could be heard coming from the secondary house as Ibrahim’s team cleared it, but the thing I could hear most clearly was the pounding of my own heart as I ran.

Just then, another Jeep came flying around the far corner of the house, with four guards in it. The guard in the passenger’s seat had his rifle out the window, and was firing wildly at us. I pushed Ling to the ground just as we came to another parked car, and brought my weapon up. I began to fire as fast as I could; an instant later, another stream of green tracers tore into the Jeep. Corwin opened up on the Jeep, as did Michel and Shen. The windows shattered, and the Jeep ignited. I guessed that the PKM was equipped with some incendiary ammunition.

“LOOK OUT!” I screamed at Ling, and ducked down. The Jeep, traveling at probably thirty miles an hour and on fire, smashed into the car we were using as cover. The car’s windows shattered, and it lurched towards us, but we were uninjured. I popped up over the hood, rifle leveled at the Jeep. It was on fire now, as the gas tank had ignited. The guard in the rear right-hand seat opened his door. He got out, engulfed in flames, and slowly walked away. He made it three steps before falling to his knees. He flopped to the ground, burning. I looked away.

Looking down at my rifle, I realized that my bolt was locked back. I removed the magazine, discarded it, then retrieved a fresh one from my load bearing vest. Chambering a round, I looked down at Ling.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “We have to move.”

“Yeah. Alpha Six, moving!”

“Gotcha covered!” Corwin replied over the radio. Ling and I scrambled to our feet and dashed for the front door of the palatial farm house while Michel and Shen moved to the position that we’d just left. Once we made it to the porch, Ling ran to the left side of the doors, and I ran to the right. She waved at Michel and Shen, and they came running up and stacked behind her. A moment later, Corwin and Jeff were there, and they stacked behind me.

I looked around. The courtyard looked like a warzone. The dozen or so cars that were parked there had mostly been shot to pieces, the Jeep continued to burn, and there were several bodies scattered here and there. Shaking my head, I returned my attention to the doors.

“You ready?” I asked Ling.

“I am. Prepare to breach!” she yelled for the benefit of the entire team. Corwin shifted his M4 to his left hand as I ducked, moved forward, and tried the door.

“It’s locked.”

“Not a problem,” Michel said, stepping forward. He removed a large makeshift breaching charge from a pouch on his vest, and stuck it to the doors, right above the locks. The charge was nothing more than half a block of C4 with adhesive on it. From that, he ran a strand of det-cord down, right where the doors met, and connected this to his shock-tube. At the end of the shock-tube, he connected his initiator, and we all moved back, around the corners.

“Fire in the hole,” he said, pulling the ring on his initiator. The concussion was deafening, and rattled the fillings in my teeth. Taking a deep breath, I shouldered my rifle, and leaned back around the corner.

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 02:12 AM
The doors had been blown to splinters. The spacious foyer of the farm house was filled with smoke, and people could be heard shouting and screaming. There were sets of stairs on either side of the room, that curved upward to the second level. On the second level, behind a railing, there were six armed men. Another man in a suit and sunglasses lay on the floor, smoldering. It seemed he’d been caught in the blast. The moment I leaned around the corner I had to duck back, as the shooters on the second level opened up on us. They couldn’t hit us, but continued to fire, their rounds tearing up the porch deck just outside of the doorway.

“We need grenades!” I yelled at Ling. I removed one from my belt, looked at Michel, and he nodded. I tossed it to him, then removed another one. We both pulled the pins, but held the spoons down. “Ready!” I said. Corwin moved in front of me, looked at Ling, and they nodded at each other. Simultaneously they leaned in the doorway, firing towards the upper level on full auto.

“FRAG UP!” I yelled, leaning in an throwing the grenade up as hard as I could. Michel did the same, but his grenade was moving a lot faster than mine. I didn’t wait to see where they landed, for as soon as the grenades were out of our hands the four of us ducked back out of the doorway. Corwin and Ling both used this brief pause to change magazines.

The night was again shattered as the two grenades detonated. An instant later, Corwin and Ling burst into the room, weapons up and firing on full auto. Michel and I followed, also laying suppressing fire on the upper level. The guards remaining there were caught off guard, and were torn apart by weapons fire.

An instant later, Jeff and Shen entered the room. Shen went left, and Jeff went right, covering doors on either side of the room. For a brief instant, it was strangely quiet. A moment later, the huge crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling fell to the floor, landing on the dead man there, and shattered into a thousand pieces.

Taking a breath, I pulled the magazine out of my rifle. It had rounds left in it, but not many. I let it fall to the floor, and reached for my vest. Before I could get the pouch open, the doors in front of us, at the far end of the room, burst open. Two guards were there, weapons held at the low ready.

They were apparently not expecting six armed people on the other side.
Reacting as fast as the calm would let me, I twisted slightly and let go of my rifle. It swung down on the sling as my left hand shot to the butt of my revolver. As I pulled the weapon up, I quickly moved to the left. I got off one shot before the two men were cut down by fire from three automatic weapons.

Holy ****, I thought. That was too close! Taking another breath, I re-holstered the .44 and grabbed my rifle. I rocked the magazine into place. I took a moment to look over everyone.

“Everybody okay?” I asked. Everyone nodded while Ling spoke into her microphone.

“Ibrahim, what’s your status?”

“We’ve just finished clearing this building. Light resistance. I am wounded, but not badly so. We found two captives, both mobile, and told them to head down the road.”

“This is Charlie Team,” our machine gunners chimed in, “those two captives just came up to our position.”

“Roger,” Ling said. “Van drivers, come up the road and stand by. Bravo Team, I need you to come to the main house. We’ve secured the foyer and will wait for you. The house is large. I need you to clear the upper levels while we head into the basement. Quickly now, this is taking too long!”

“Yes, my lady!” Ibrahim replied, and Ling almost blushed. Despite the carnage around me, I had to smile at that. Within moments, Ibrahim’s team was in the foyer with us. Ibrahim himself had a bandage around his right leg, and was limping, but it didn’t deter him. He and Ling briefly discussed their plan. The doorway to our right led downstairs, into the basement, and that was where we were going. Ibrahim’s team would clear the first, then the second floor of the house.

Within moments, we were stacked up on the door that led to the basement. Jeff was to my left, and Corwin was behind me. Reaching out with my right hand, I pulled the door open.

“****!” I yelled, and ducked back so quickly I slipped and fell. Chunks of the plaster above me broke off and fell to the floor in clouds of dust as bullets stitched across the ceiling. Before I could recover, Jeff and Corwin leaned in the door. Corwin let off a short burst from his M4, while Jeff’s shotgun roared three times. They were answered with more automatic weapons fire and had to duck back out of the way.

“**** THIS!” I said, rolling to my left. I reached to my belt and grabbed my last grenade. “FRAG UP!” I pulled the pin, and tossed it down the stairs. I heard a muffled shout from the room below, then the lights flickered as the grenade detonated. Immediately following up, Corwin and Jeff moved down the stairs, weapons at the ready. I rolled out of the way as Shen and Michel followed them. Ling helped me up.

I heard commotion and gunfire from the bottom of the stairs. Looking over Shen’s shoulder, I saw Corwin and Jeff leaning around the corner at the bottom. There was a large landing down there, and it looked like it led into a larger room. Finally, both of my friends yelled clear and we made our way down the stairs, Ling and I pointing our weapons upward to cover our rear.

The room at the bottom of the stairs was a furnished sitting room of some kind. There was a bar on one side, stocked with dozens of broken bottles of booze. Four more guards, one of them wearing a suit, lay on the floor in puddles of blood. Corwin changed magazines and Jeff was thumbing rounds into his shotgun while covering someone.

The man that Jeff had his weapon pointed at was crouched on the floor, with his hands in the air. He was wearing a tuxedo and some kind of weird masquerade mask, with feathers and crap coming off of it.

“P…p…please!” he stammered. “I’m unarmed! I…”

“BE QUIET” Michel boomed as he entered the room. “Make your peace.” He leveled his stubby assault rifle at the man and fired a six-round burst into him. The 7.62mm bullets exploded out of the masked man’s back, and he crumpled to the floor. Jeff seemed stunned for a moment. Corwin shrugged.

“No prisoners,” Michel said. Jeff nodded slowly, then looked over at me. I could only mimic Corwin’s shrug.

“How long?” Ling asked.

“Fourteen minutes, Ma’am,” Shen responded. Ling cursed in Chinese.

“We’ve been here too long. We need to finish this and get out of here. Let’s go.” Muffled gunfire could be heard resonating from the upper levels as Ibrahim’s team went about their ugly task.

“Which way?” Corwin asked. There were three doors leading out of the sitting room. The one to our left, which was parallel to the staircase, was the most likely candidate, and Ling said as much. Before she could finish, though, the door right across from the bottom of the staircase burst open. One of the suit-wearing goons, sporting a little TMP submachine gun, leaned around the corner and let off a long burst.

Corwin grunted in pain as multiple 9mm slugs tore into his left thigh and hip. Letting his rifle go, he began to fall to his left, drawing his Sig as he did so. He hit the floor firing, letting off shot after shot into the doorway. Jeff’s shotgun roared again, but the shooter was gone.

“****!” Corwin yelled. I kept my rifle leveled at the door, waiting for the guy in the suit to pop out again. If he was smart, I thought, he’d let us come to him. Not that it’d make a difference for him in the end.

I heard another door open behind me. I looked over my shoulder in time to see one of the rifle-carrying guards look into the room, eyes wide. He had his G36K shouldered, and aimed it at me. I tried to move, but wasn’t fast enough.

I felt three sharp pains as his rounds struck me in the back. I stumbled forward and fell to the floor, trying to roll out of the way. Ling and Michel were on the shooter before he could fire again, though. He probably caught a dozen rounds before they stopped firing. At the same time, the suit wearing shooter appeared in the doorway again. Jeff’s Benelli 12-gauge spoke again. The first shot hit the suit guy in the stomach in a splash of blood, causing him to double over. The second hit him in the chest, causing his torso to whip back, and he began to fall. Before his knees hit the floor, Jeff popped off a third shot, which struck the man in the neck and damn near took his head off. Three-inch magnum buckshot is nasty stuff, and Jeff is a demon with that shotgun.

I was still on the floor, now laying on my back. I asked Corwin if he was okay, unable to hide the concern in my voice. It hurt to breathe.

“Are you okay?” Ling asked, kneeling beside me.

“I think so,” I croaked. “Is there any blood?”

“No,” she said, patting my back to check for blood, relief in her voice. “Your vest stopped all three rounds.” Body armor: never leave home without it!

“Matthew?” I asked.

“****…****…” he managed as Shen knelt by his side.

“Multiple nine-millimeter wounds,” Shen said.

“Christ,” Corwin said. “Not again. God damn it.”

“Bravo One, this is Alpha Six. I need you to send one of your guys to the foyer. We’ve got wounded that I’m sending up, and I want to make sure it’s clear.”

“Affirmative,” Ibrahim replied. “We’re making our way to the second floor now. I will send Roland.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “Jeff, help Matthew up and take him upstairs.”

“Allow me to bandage him first. I am a trained medic,” Shen said. I nodded, and asked Ling to help me up. Instead Michel grabbed the drag strap on my armor and literally pulled me to my feet, with one hand. Shen quickly bandaged Corwin’s wounds, and he and Jeff helped my injured friend to his feet. He slung his left arm around Jeff’s neck, and they made their way to the stairs.

“Mike, I’m never going anywhere with you again!” Corwin yelled as they rounded the corner.

“Take him all the way to the vans!” I yelled back. “We’ll finish up down here. I’ll see you guys later!” At the time, I had no idea how much later it would be.

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 02:15 AM
There were four of us left, now. Shen and Michel checked the last door, which led only to an empty bathroom. Confident that everything behind us was secure, we made our way through the door and down the hallway beyond. The hallway was unfurnished, save a hastily-laid red carpet, and was lit by simple fluorescent lighting. The walls were cinder block, and on our right were open doors which led to storage rooms. No one was in any of them, leaving only the door at the end of the hall. That was where the actual slave sale had to be taking place, that was where the captives had to be, and that was where the clients had to be as well, along with whatever security they had left.

I felt trepidation creeping into my mind. Those people were going to be desperate; by now they had to know what was happening. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes for a moment, then continued down the hall. I was in the lead as we came to the door. The others stacked behind me, and I looked back. Ling placed her hand on my shoulder, and looked into my eyes. I smiled at her, turned and kicked the door open. I was unprepared for what I saw.

Before I could take it in, though, I had to react. There were two guards left, both in suits and carrying only pistols. My rifle was up and on the one closest to me before he could fire, and I popped off three shots. All three exploded out of his back, and he collapsed to the floor. The second security guy got one shot off before Ling and Shen together put about a dozen slugs through him. His shot went wide, grazing Michel in the left bicep. The hulking, muscular African didn’t even flinch.

Finally having a moment to breathe, I took in the room I was now in. It was a large storage room that had been converted for another purpose. The left side of the room had been set up with a wide stage. On that stage, huddled together in shock, were thirty people. Most seemed completely out of it; Ling had told me that it was common to drug the captives with something like Valium to make them docile for the auction.

They were girls and boys; the youngest were scarcely older than toddlers, and the oldest were but teenagers. The boys were wearing only shorts, and the girls wore shorts and t-shirts. There were two men on stage. One, apparently the auctioneer, was crouched against the wall. He was wearing a flamboyant red suit and some kind of freaky devil mask. Another man was an older guy in a tux, wearing a black masquerade mask. He stood up as we entered the room, weapons leveled.

The right half of the room had been set up with chairs. Most of them had been knocked over now, but in the back corner, also huddled together, were probably twenty people. Most were men in tuxedos, but there were a few women as well. All were wearing masks. Some had on leather gimp masks, others looked like they were attending a masquerade ball. My blood ran cold. I’ve seen a lot of horrible things in my life, but this sick spectacle bothered me in ways that I can’t describe. They’d even hung a banner across the far wall that read, ‘the wages of sin’.

They’re going to find out what those wages are, I thought to myself, and made my way to the stage. As I did so, I heard Ibrahim on the radio, saying that the upper levels were clear and that he was heading to the basement. Ling responded, telling him that we’d found the captives.

I strode up the steps, and then across the stage. I looked down at the auctioneer in his devil mask.

“I…I can pay you…I…” Without a word, I let go of my FAL, drew my .44, and shot the auctioneer in the face. The crowd gasped as the big revolver spoke and the auctioneer’s head exploded in a red cloud. Holstering my sidearm, I continued forward to the other man on the stage. He held up his hands to me, not in surrender, but almost like he was scolding me.

“Do you know who I am, son?” he said, apparently confident that I gave a ****. Now, the irony of a masked man asking me who he is was not lost on me. But for the life of me, I couldn’t think of anything witty to say, no snappy come-back. Ain’t that how it always is? I was in no mood for quips anyway. I looked over at the terrified captives again, and unsnapped my rifle’s sling.

Stepping forward, I brought my rifle up, and smashed the masked man in the nose with my its steel buttplate. His head snapped back, and I smashed again, causing him to collapse to the stage. I stood over him, and brought the butt of my rifle down on his head again, and again, and again, the calm giving way to rage. After the third strike, there was blood on the buttplate of my rifle stock. I moved behind the man and, holding my rifle in both hands again, kicked his limp form off of the stage. He unceremoniously flopped to the floor, and didn’t move.

“Does anybody else here think I GIVE A **** WHO YOU ARE?” I asked of the crowd, my words coming out almost as a scream. No one said anything, and I buckled my rifle’s sling around me. Just then, Ibrahim’s team made their way into the room.

“BACK AGAINST THE WALL!” Michel boomed.

“MOVE!” Ling screamed. The terrified masked people complied, and we spent the next few minutes getting the captives out of there. It was difficult; the ones that weren’t drugged were in shock, and we had to be gentle. But within minutes, the last of them had been led up the stairs. It was time to go.

I got to witness another EXODUS ritual then, one few outsiders ever see and live to tell about. Ling, Ibrahim, Michel, Shen, and three more people from Ibrahim’s team lined up and leveled their weapons at the crowd.

“We are EXODUS,” Ling said calmly. “You are wicked. Make your peace.”

“No, WAIT!” one of them screamed. It didn’t do him any good.

My eyes narrowed as I, still standing on the stage, watched my comrades massacre the monsters who would buy and sell children as sexual playthings. The noise was deafening, from the chatter of Ling’s assault rifle to the thump of Ibrahim’s G3K, to the roar of one fully automatic shotgun. It was over in seconds, though, and all of the shooters had to reload.

“Michael,” Ling said to me, her voice sounding distant. “We have to go now.”

“Alpha One, Alpha One, this is Fox Team! We’ve got two choppers inbound from the north. They’re a ways off, but I’ve got ‘em on thermal. They’re flyin’ nap of the earth and are runnin’ dark. Please advise!” The Fox Team sniper had a thick southern drawl, which I found interesting. Ling cursed in Chinese again.

“We’ve been here too long.” Indeed, it’d been almost half an hour now. “I didn’t think they’d respond that quickly. Fox Team, Alpha One. Get out of there. Attention all elements, we are leaving. Get to the vans now. GO!” Everyone replied in the affirmative, and we began to make our way back down the hallway, towards the stairs.

“Ling,” I said as we vaulted up the steps into the foyer.

“Michael, there’s no time,” she said, not slowing down.

“Ling!” I said again, grabbing her arm. “We’re not going to make it.”

“Not if we delay. Now come on!” The irritation was obvious in her voice.

“No,” I said, unsnapping my rifle and handing it to her. “We’re not going to outrun two choppers. We need a diversion.”

“What are you saying?”

“If I don’t make it, give my rifle back to Hawk. I’m not letting the Feds get it.”

“Michael, NO! We’re not leaving anyone behind! Get to the vans!”

“You’re not the boss of me, darlin’,” I said, managing a smile for her. “Michel? You got any demo left?”

“Yes, Mr. Valentine. One block of C4, some det-cord, another initiator, and five minutes’ worth of time fuse.”

“That’ll do. Give it here.”

“But your rifle!” Ling said.

“Plenty of ‘em laying on the ground. Get going now. Get the children out of here. I don’t want to do this for nothing. Go on!”

“God will not forget this,” Ibrahim said, patting me on the shoulder as he went out the door. Ling lingered. Taking a moment I didn’t have, I gently put my left hand on her right cheek. She closed her eyes, and I told her goodbye. I then turned her around, pushed her out of the door, and ran up the stairs to the second floor.

Chicken ****, I thought to myself as I stopped by one of the dead guards. You should’ve kissed her. I took his rifle and two extra magazines, and was on my way.

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 02:18 AM
I made my way to a bedroom that faced north. The lights were off, and through the darkness I could hear the choppers. A moment later, I could see them through the 4x ACOG scope mounted on the G36K I'd acquired. I wasn’t sure, but I thought that they were French-made Dolphin helicopters, and they looked like they were black. One landed just outside of the treeline that surrounded the house, and the other hovered nearby.

I didn’t want to kill any FBI guys, or whoever the hell they were. I just had to keep ‘em back long enough for the vans to get clear. Even two choppers can’t follow four vans that split up. Resting the rifle on the window frame, I guesstimated the range, moved the selector switch to ‘semi’, and popped off a shot. I was aiming for the hovering chopper’s tail. I figured if I put a couple holes in it they’d take off, and hopefully I wouldn’t hit anyone inside. I fired again, then a third time, then ducked out of the window and scrambled out of the room. I barely avoided a stream of tracer fire coming from the helicopter. So they had a door gun!

Running up the hall, I entered another room, and looked at the chopper again. It had moved closer now, shining a searchlight on the window that I’d been in. The pilot was either brave or stupid to get that close, I thought. I aimed at the chopper’s tail rotor and began to pop off more shots. I could tell I was getting hits, and the door gunner tried to swing his weapon over at me. Before he could, though, the pilot had rotated the aircraft and took off back to the north, gaining altitude as he did so. I exhaled heavily, relieved that I’d been able to spook him.

I ran out of the room and back down the stairs, changing magazines as I did so. The other chopper was still on the ground, and the one I’d shot at was still nearby. I had an idea on how to cover my retreat, though.

On the west side of the house was a huge propane tank. I stuck the C4 charge to this. I then tied the end of the det-cord into a knot and stuck that into the C4. I cut the time fuse so that it would burn for only three minutes, then connected it to the det-cord. I then connected the initiator to the other end of the time fuse, and pulled the ring. It popped, and the fuse began to burn down. Satisfied, I ran to the other side of the house as fast as I could. Setting my rifle back to full auto, I ripped off an entire magazine over the treeline. There was no way I’d hit anything; my hope was that it’d keep their heads down and slow their advance on the house.

Dropping the rifle, I quickly looked around the parking lot. The Mustang! The engine was still running. It was a little shot up, but it was operational. I pulled the dead man out of the driver’s seat and did my best to ignore the fact that I was sitting in someone else's brains. I closed the door, buckled myself in, and was relieved to find that the car had an automatic transmission. I know it’s considered blasphemy in such a sports car, but I wasn’t all that great at driving a stick. I put the car in gear and stomped on the gas, tearing down the road that led away from the farm house. I left my headlights off, but the clouds were clearing and moonlight was shining through. I turned onto the road, about a quarter mile away from the courtyard, flipped on the headlights, and stomped on the gas.

A moment later, the sky behind me lit up in a fireball as the propane tank exploded. The house was engulfed in flames, but I didn’t even slow down. I’d never driven a sports car like that before, and I was pleased to realize that I was going almost a hundred miles an hour. I slowed when I saw flashing police lights in the distance. I slowed more when they got close, and pulled over to the side. They were going in the opposite direction, towards the house. There had to have been a dozen police cars and five fire trucks, and they paid me no mind. I accelerated again, and smiled to myself.

Hell, I thought. At this rate, I’ll get to the safe house before the vans do. No..I should probably ditch this car and get out of my gear. I’ll have to be sneaky. Can’t be spotted in town covered in blood. I slowed down, as there was a sharp curve ahead of me.

Rounding the curve, I checked the rear-view mirror. I didn’t see any sign of the helicopters. I exhaled heavily, focusing on the road again.

That’s when I saw the cow. Standing in the road, not nearly far enough away, was a fifteen-hundred pound black cow. At the last possible second, I cut the wheel to the left, trying to avoid a collision. I did so, but I was going almost a hundred miles an hour. The nimble sports car skidded, then flipped. The world was turned to chaos as the yellow Mustang rolled over again and again, and all I could do was hang on.

An instant later, it was over. I was upside down, in a lot of pain, and happy that I’d worn my seatbelt.

“****ING COW!” I screamed as blood rushed to my head. Why are there all these God damned cows anyway? I thought cows were in Wisconsin! Why are there dairy farms in ****ing Iowa? Don’t they grow corn in Iowa? And why didn’t the ****ing airbag… My thoughts were interrupted as the airbag exploded in my face. The last thing I remember before losing consciousness was hearing the cow moo, and finally thinking up a good come-back for the masked man that I’d killed. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 02:19 AM
That's all for Chapter 12. :)

canopy2k
April 2, 2007, 02:25 AM
BEAUTIFUL!!

Thanks NC.

I just registered on THR, so I could get updates as this story progressed. Literally you were posting as I was registering. Imagine my happiness when I came to tag the thread and saw your posts start. You keep me enthralled everytime!

c2k

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 03:59 AM
Epilogue

“I guess this is it, guys,” I said to my friends. We five, all that was left of SWITCHBLADE, sat in Hawk’s kitchen, meeting as a group for the last time. “I know it was rough. Thank you all for sticking with me.”

“Spare me, Hopper,” Triana said, no longer even trying to hide her contempt for me. I really couldn’t blame her. I wasn’t any happier about what had happened than she was. “Cut to the chase. What’s the pay out?”

“I ran the numbers,” I said, looking around. “Splitting up Hudson’s share between us ends up being about three-point-eight-seven-six million dollars for each of us. The money is in Euros, though, and it’s already been wired to Decker’s account. I’m having it wired to our individual accounts on Monday, and after that, I’m closing Decker’s account.”

“So this is really it,” Corwin said.

“Yeah, dude, this is really it,” I said. “It’s for the best.”

“I know,” he said. “It’ll be weird, though.”

“Tell me about it,” Jeff said. “What the hell am I going to do now?”

“I’m sure you’ll find something to do with your millions of dollars,” I said, shooting him a smirk. He laughed.

“You’re the only one of us that has a house, Hawk,” I said, looking over at the old gunslinger. He was leaned against his counter, sipping a beer, as calm as ever.

“It won’t be the same with all you kids gone, either,” he said, raising his beer to us. “Time to move on, though, I think.”

“Yeah,” Triana said, standing up. “Hawk, thank you for everything.” She walked over and gave him a hug. For the first time that I could recall, Hawk looked a little ruffled. He didn’t quite blush. “Hopper, I never want to see you again.” Triana turned and headed for the door.

“You won’t,” I said to her back. “Nothing to see anyway.” I looked down at the can of soda in my hand, and sincerely wished I could forget.

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 04:04 AM
After a couple days in the hospital, they’d transferred me to the county jail. I was being held on suspicion of grand theft auto and unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, or something like that. The police had guessed that I’d had something to do with the incident at the farm house, but they seemed unable to put the pieces together.

So there I was, sitting in an interrogation room, picking my nose, while two detectives did a lousy job of playing Good Cop/Bad Cop. They’d been interrogating me for almost an hour, and I hadn’t said a single word to them. The ‘bad cop’ was getting increasingly frustrated and yelled louder and louder as time passed. The ‘good cop’ was rubbing his temples, and I saw him pop a couple Excedrin.

“I’m not going to ask you again,” Bad Cop said to me, nose just inches from my face. Oh, how I wish that were true, I thought. “What the hell happened at that farmhouse? We know you were involved! What is your name!”

The police were having a hard time with me. I wasn't carrying any ID when I was arrested, and my fingerprints weren’t on file. I was sure that eventually they’d be able to match dental records from when I was a kid, but for the time being, I was giving them nothing. I continued to pick my nose. My right arm was in a sling, as I’d sprained my elbow in the crash, and I had gauze and bandages all over. I was wearing an orange jumpsuit and white tennis shoes.

“Are you listening to me?” Bad Cop said, getting angry and shoving me on the shoulder. I looked at him, then back at the slimy booger on my left index finger, then back at him. Before he knew what happened, I wiped the booger on his upper lip. Bad Cop came unglued.

“You son of a bitch!” he sputtered, wiping his face on his sleeve. “That’s disgusting! I…hey! HEY! Are you listening to me?” I’d already gone back to picking my nose. The dry winter air was playing hell with my sinuses. He reeled back like he was going to smack me, but Good Cop intervened.

“Look,” Good Cop said. “The Feds are blocking our investigation. You’re all we got. We don’t know what the hell’s going on over there, but it stinks, and it smells like a cover-up. Will you help us expose the truth? We can work out a deal if you cooperate.” Before I could think about responding, someone knocked on the door.

“What’s going on?” Good Cop asked.

“Feds are here. They want to see him,” the other guy said.

“What? How’d they find out?”

“Don’t know, but they want to see him, alone.”

“****.” Both cops left me alone in the interrogation room then. I was alone in there for probably ten minutes before the door opened again. This time, two guys in cheap suits walked in. One was shorter, mid-thirties probably, with a slick haircut and a hard face. The other was a tall, lean, mean looking dude. He had blonde hair blue eyes, chiseled features, and looked like something off of a Nazi propaganda poster. The slick guy sat down across from me, while the Übermensch remained standing at the back of the room.

“I must say, Mr. Valentine, you’re a difficult young man to track down,” Slick said, looking me in the eye. I smiled at him.

“I do try. I was wondering how long it’d take you guys to figure out who I am.”

“Well, we’ve got better resources than these ****ing yokels,” he said, grinning at me.

“You a Fed?” I asked.

“Something like that. I am with the Government.”

“Just ‘the Government’? No agency? No department? Just a generic G-Man?”

“Something like that,” he said, grinning still.

“So what can I do for you then, Mr…?”

“Willis. My name is Gordon Willis. My associate here is Mr. Anders. I think a better question is what I can do for you.”

“I’m listening.”

“Well, Mr. Valentine, we know that you were working with the terrorist group EXODUS, and we’re fairly certain you used to be with the mercenary group SWITCHBLADE. We know that Valentine isn’t your real name, but we don’t know what your real name is. We’ll find out eventually, though. However, we can work this out, if you’ll just answer one question.”

“Go ahead.”

“Did you or your friends kill Edward Montalban in that farm house?”

“Who?”

“Edward Montalban. Skinny guy, bad hair. Carries a poodle. Kind of gay.”

“I think he left before we got there. Assuming, of course, that I know what you’re talking about, which I don’t, or that I was there, which I wasn’t, wherever ‘there’ is or was.” Gordon laughed.

“That’s a shame. We were very much looking forward to having a word with him. I suppose it was too much to hope for that your friends would’ve taken care of him for us while causing me so many headaches. Imagine my surprise when my strike team commanders reported that not only had their choppers been fired upon, but when they finally assaulted the house, everyone was dead and the place was burning to the ground!”

“You said we can work it out. I answered your question. So what’s the deal?”

“Well…I’m afraid you and your friends have put us on the spot, Mr. Valentine. Normally, we don’t give a **** about the likes of EXODUS, and I personally don’t give two ****s about the people you whacked. But therein lies the problem. Do you know who those people were?”

“One guy asked me if I did. He was wearing a mask, though, so it was kind of a dumb question.” Gordon laughed again. “They were just a bunch of rich pedophiles. Who gives a ****?”

“That’s the thing. Among those rich pedophiles was a sitting United States Senator, three Congressmen, high-level executives from no less than four Fortune 500 companies, one of which has direct ties to the Vice President, a United States Circuit Court Judge, a washed up pop singer, a famous televangelist, and an even more famous celebrity who’s also a vocal advocate for the Church of Scientology.”

“I’m still not caring, Mr. Willis,” I said coldly. “A pedophile is a pedophile. I don’t give a **** who his friends are.”

“No, but those friends do. As I said, I personally have no sympathy for them. But the truth about this incident leaking out would stir the pot a little too vigorously for my superiors’ taste. So, what actually happened, can’t have happened, and we’re working on ensuring that it didn’t. We’re not worried about EXODUS, especially since they didn’t bother to ID any of the people they killed. But then here you are, with all of the information. Now what do we do with you?”

“You know, I didn’t know any of that information until you told me just now. But since you couldn’t keep your mouth shut, I suppose that thanking me for taking out the trash and letting me go is out of the question?”

“I’m afraid so,” Gordon said, a grin splitting his face. “You’re too much of a loose end to be left running around.”

“I have a question now. I see where this is going. If you’re just going to take me out back and shoot me anyway, why are we having this little chat? I’m willing to bet you already knew that I didn’t know anything.”

“I’d guessed,” Gordon said. “I needed to be sure, though. In any case, I told you that we could work this out, and I meant that. So I’m giving you a choice. I’m putting a little project together, one that needs people of your obvious talent. If you did what we think you did the other night, then you’re a talented young man indeed. If you go to bat for us, for your country, instead of just for money, then your unpleasant past can stay hidden. Once it’s over, you can go your own way, provided you can keep quiet about things, and you will be compensated for your trouble in the mean time.”

“I don’t suppose I have any choice?”

“Of course you do. If you don’t want to work with me, then you’re going to die in a tragic accident. Or maybe you’ll be raped and murdered in prison. Either way, I’d suggest that you consider my offer.”

“I have two requests.”

“Go ahead,” Gordon said, sounding suspicious.

“First of all, make these cops give me my gun back. I don’t care about the snubby, but that forty-four is important to me. Also, let me send one email to my friends, so they know I’m not dead. You can read it before I send it if you want. I wouldn’t have lived this long if I wasn’t good at being discreet.”

“Does this mean that you’re on board, Mr. Valentine?”

“As thrilling as being gang-raped by a bunch of burly convicts sounds, I think I’m willing to give your offer a shot.”

“You’re taking this very well. I honestly expected more defiance.”

“I’m a mercenary, Mr. Willis, not an idealist. Who is it that you want me to kill?”

“I’m sorry…?”

“Gordon…can I call you Gordon? Gordon,” I said, grinning, “No one has ever asked for, or in your case, insisted upon my help unless they wanted somebody whacked. So who is it?”

“We’ll get to that later,” he said with a laugh. “Now why don’t we get you out of here?”

“And my requests?”

“I think we can do both, Mr. Valentine.” I stuck out my hand. Gordon took it, and shook it firmly. He had a pleasant smile and a smooth voice, but I could tell that he had ice water in his veins. I knew I couldn’t trust him, but I also knew that if I didn’t go along with this, I was a dead man. Oh well, I thought. Can’t win ‘em all…

***

Dear Jeff,

I don’t have a lot of time, so I have to be brief. The chair is against the wall, and John has a long moustache. I’m alive, and I’m okay. I got caught. Some G-Man offered me a deal, I took it. I guess I work for them now. Don’t know what, when, where, or for how long, but I’ll be okay. I’ll be out of touch, though. Tell everyone I’m okay, including Austin. Thank him especially, he really saved my butt.

Tell HER that I’m sorry. Tell her that I’ll never forget her, and tell her that I said goodbye. You guys go to ground, stay off the radar, and watch your six. Take care of yourselves. It was good to see you guys again. I’ll see you when I see you.

-Mike

PS: DO NOT try to find me. This order is NOT DISCRETIONARY.

END

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 04:06 AM
I'm afraid that's all, folks. Thank you everyone for your support, and thanks to Oleg for making this all possible.

The rework of Book II will be starting before too terribly long, then then onto Book III, so there's more to come. I hope you enjoyed this little prequel. :o

EDIT: If anyone's keeping track, that's about eleven thousand, nine hundred words I added tonight to wrap the story up. Thought I'd make up for not getting anything posted last week. Comes to about sixteen pages, single spaced, 10-point Arial font.

Geegolly
April 2, 2007, 04:15 AM
“There are two targets leaving the farm house. Target one is great huge fat man in a white suit, target two is a skinny woman in a tuxedo, carrying a poodle.”

“Woman?” Ibrahim said.

“Uh…negative,” the Echo sniper said. “I was wrong, is not woman, is man with poodle. Do I have permission to engage?”

:mad: should of shot them, I bet lorenzo wishes they had

darkknight
April 2, 2007, 05:07 AM
i cant wait for the second story again. Thank you nightcrawler for the awesome books. you should turn these into a script and become rich America needs a hero like this and you deserve the money for your talent.
dark knight

NukemJim
April 2, 2007, 08:05 AM
NC, your already excellent skills have definetly improved. Most excellent!

A thought to consider perhaps, I went back and reread the original story (Hey I neeed a fix :) ) and enjoyed the humor in it. perhaps you could do some sort of work in the humorous style as evidenced in the original work, either shorts or a different long story. If you read SciFi think Miles Vorkasagin (SP?) some works serious some humorous.

Also would love to see some good SciFi (There is already WAY too much bad SciFi :cuss: ) how far in the future i.e. what type of weaponry will the protaganist be using? (Besides you working in a .44Mag revolver somehow :evil: )

Congratulations and thanks on an A+ product.

NukemJim
PS I look forward to the next story but as one of my photography instructors told us. "They will remember how bad it is long after they forget how quickly it was done". Write at your own pace, your product is worth waiting for. NJ

v8stang289
April 2, 2007, 08:55 AM
Excellent job NC, well worth the wait.

CNYCacher
April 2, 2007, 10:17 AM
Awsome!

back to work :uhoh:

fiVe
April 2, 2007, 10:45 AM
Bravo! Thanks, NC (and thank you, Oleg). Looking forward to the re-release of #2.

hacksaw
April 2, 2007, 11:10 AM
Bravo!

Glock22
April 2, 2007, 11:39 AM
Nightcrawler you have done another great job. :cool:
This is some great writing. :D :D

G36-UK
April 2, 2007, 11:57 AM
Nice work as always, Nightcrawler.

I can't wait for the next ones. I assume you've got something serious planned for Book 3?

Can you give an example of the things you're changing in Book 2?

Correia
April 2, 2007, 12:03 PM
Book 2 is going to be a little bit longer than the original thread. Some characters are getting fleshed out a bit more, and of course we're going to do some actual editing this time.

Book 3 is bigger, and some major things happen. Threads from the past come back together, and all the loose ends are tied up. That will be the final chapter of the Nightcrawler saga.

I've got to say. I loved the cow. :D

Correia
April 2, 2007, 12:04 PM
Geegolly, very perceptive. In the 'crawlerverse, everything is related somehow. :)

Billy Sparks
April 2, 2007, 12:17 PM
NC and Correia, the offer still stands if you ever make to my area of North Carolina I will buy you a steak dinner for the stories you two have written.

SwampFox
April 2, 2007, 12:35 PM
Outstanding. Thanks.http://www.cafeoutdoors.com/ubb/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif

xds&gsps
April 2, 2007, 01:11 PM
Awesome thanks for sharing your talents with us!!!!

Correia
April 2, 2007, 01:20 PM
You know, Nightcrawler screwed up.

Yesterday was April Fools Day.

He should have posted that he had taken a lucrative security gig in the middle east again, and was going to have to leave immediatly, and would be without internet access for a year. He would finish this when he got back. :)

WayneConrad
April 2, 2007, 01:22 PM
That's some of the pulpiest pulp I've ever read. It's great! Good writing, and especially memorable characters. I like that guy. I want to know what he does next.

Tomorrow would be a good day for you to post the beginning of the next book. I can wait that long. OK? I'll wait.

Flintlock Tom
April 2, 2007, 03:58 PM
Nightcrawler: Bravo Zulu

Correia:
"You know, Nightcrawler screwed up.

Yesterday was April Fools Day.

He should have posted that he had taken a lucrative security gig in the middle east again, and was going to have to leave immediatly, and would be without internet access for a year. He would finish this when he got back. "

Some things are just too scary to joke about.

fiVe
April 2, 2007, 04:03 PM
"You know, Nightcrawler screwed up.

Yesterday was April Fools Day.

He should have posted that he had taken a lucrative security gig in the middle east again, and was going to have to leave immediatly, and would be without internet access for a year. He would finish this when he got back. "

Some things are just too scary to joke about.

I agree. That would've been major cruel.

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 04:09 PM
Heh. Nobody caught that Valentine shook hands with Gordon after he'd been picking his nose with that same hand. :D

Thank you for all of the kind words and support, everybody. I'm going to be getting started on the rewrite of Book II, which is going to be a major project in of itself. It'll be worth it, though.

Book III is going to be epic. You guys just have no idea. :cool:

Red Dragon
April 2, 2007, 04:49 PM
DAMNIT!!! Why the hell do I keep getting shot?!?!?!



Corwin :mad:

Gifted
April 2, 2007, 05:03 PM
Also would love to see some good SciFi (There is already WAY too much bad SciFi ) how far in the future i.e. what type of weaponry will the protaganist be using? (Besides you working in a .44Mag revolver somehow )I PMed him about that. I was looking at power armor with fifty cals, in the not too distant future. He wants to go retro. Either way, it'd be fun to work with him.

Arkie
April 2, 2007, 05:56 PM
That's Great!!!

Makes you feel like your right there in the action.

Keep up the Good work and I'll keep reading! :D

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 06:21 PM
For anyone wondering, member Red Dragon is the person on whom I -loosely- based the character of Corwin.

As a matter of fact, a great many of my primary characters are based on real people, to one degree or another. I know it's kind of cheating, but it makes character creation easier.

At any rate, Mr. Dragon takes it personally when I abuse his counterpart. I was going to kill Corwin off, but...I'm too nice for my own good sometimes. You wanna be in the story, you gotta take your lumps. One solid rule about the 'Crawlerverse is that everything breaks, gets shot, explodes, or has something happen to it eventually. Like that Yellow Mustang. :D

Correia
April 2, 2007, 06:28 PM
On the other hand, none of mine are based on real people. That's why mine die a lot. :D

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 06:34 PM
You'd better not kill off anybody I like in the sequel to Monster Hunter. I'm serious. Ya got blood lust, boy, blood lust! :D

qlajlu
April 2, 2007, 06:43 PM
Nightcrawler, I'll bet you had some spectacular battles with those little green plastic military toy figures and a set of Lincoln Logs. I will also bet that you drove your mother nuts with all the "battles" and the sounds of war emitting from your mouth as your army carried out its assignment. You had to have had an extremely active imagination at a very early age.

Kudos to you, Sir. We here at THR are graced by the presence of you and Corriea. I am also proud that you are Utahns. It is, by its very nature, a rather unusual combination of high velocity shoot-em-ups from such a conservative State.

Nightcrawler
April 2, 2007, 07:11 PM
Yeeeeahhh...when I was a kid...:uhoh:

*runs off and hides big bucket of green plastic army men*

Now I'm an adult. I do adult things, like paying taxes and shaving. I also have to push the grocery cart instead of riding in it, which is lame.

Mac Attack
April 2, 2007, 08:35 PM
I just started reading episode 12 -1 then noticed that you ended the story on the next page. I will have to read extremely slow so that all the words last until the next story.

NC, excellent story. Your words kept me captivated and eager for the next episode. Thanks for a well written an exciting story.

Mac

Brian Williams
April 2, 2007, 10:35 PM
I just got big, I still ride the shopping cart, but I do pay taxes.

Rey B
April 2, 2007, 10:47 PM
Like I said to the semi-driver that hit me, when I crawled out of my smashed little pickup "Wahoo what a hell of a ride!" Thanks Nightcrawler and Correia for the best excuse to avoid reading chemistry texts I have found in a while. Eagerly awaiting the re-write of book two and all of book three.

BB93YJ
April 3, 2007, 01:39 AM
Well, I dunno... when reading a piece of literature such as this, and it makes me fondle my G30, causes my pulse to quicken and raises my blood pressure to unsafe levels, I guess I'd have to say you have hit a home run.

Yup. No doubt about it.

Outa the park.

Thanks!

crew590
April 3, 2007, 02:00 AM
But all I can say is thanks for the great story. Best of luck rewriting Books 2 and 3.

Jay

Nightcrawler
April 3, 2007, 02:02 AM
Thanks are not needed. Trust me, I'm having way more fun with this than you guys.

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the chaotic final battle. :)

Glock22
April 3, 2007, 02:14 AM
I have said it before I will say it again. This thread and Nightcrawler's writing helps me get through Econ at nine in the morning.

Geronimo45
April 3, 2007, 02:33 AM
Teriffic job! Looking forward to see your next installments.

The ending was great... Valentine thought he'd got away scot-free, and all was well with the world - until he hit the cow. Man, was THAT a plot twist to remember! :D

Nightcrawler
April 3, 2007, 07:08 AM
You know, the above post gets me thinking. If you would all be so kind as to humor your humble (yet rakishly handsome and incredibly talented) author...

What was your favorite scene? How did you react to it?

Which was your favorite character, and why?

What was your favorite line, quote, etc.?

Correia already admitted that he loved the scene where Mr. Valentine boots the dead guy off of the stage. If I do say so myself, that'd look awesome on the big screen. :cool:

EDIT: To be fair...my favorite character by far is Ling, followed by Hawk. My favorite lines?

...apparently confident that I gave a ****.
In case there's a tank.
I thought you were joking about the hand grenades.

Billy Sparks
April 3, 2007, 07:48 AM
Hmmm favorite scene?

The wreck with the Mustang. That was just too real. In the movies the heros get captured or get shot by a dying bad guy but NO ONE rams Elsie the Moo Cow.


Favorite Character?

Hawk, he reminds me of my late father. Cool, never gets excited.


Favorite Line?

Don't know got to reread it.

NukemJim
April 3, 2007, 07:53 AM
You know, the above post gets me thinking. If you would all be so kind as to humor your humble (yet rakishly handsome and incredibly talented) author...

What was your favorite scene? How did you react to it?

Which was your favorite character, and why?

What was your favorite line, quote, etc.?


Ohh a reason to reread the story, sure I'll be happy to get back to you on that as soon as I get done.:D

NukemJim

Correia
April 3, 2007, 09:56 AM
Overall favorite? And remember, my perspective is different, because its more about what was fun to write, and that was when NC and Lorenzo finally meet in II, and have a good old fashioned knife fight and slugfest.

Okay, I'm biased, but I think my favorite scene I did was in book II, with Carl in the desert after the big heist. (ain't gonna say what happened, because some folks here might not have read II yet). That one choked me up.

My favorite scene from NC has to be when he executes the auctioneer, and beats the "don't you know who I am?" guy. He had already told me what was coming, but it gave me shivers. That is the first time that Valentine loses it.

The best scene ever will be in Book III, when the time machine malfunctions, and NC has to save the princess from the dinosaur people, while Lorenzo is being DNA tested to see if he is Anna Nicole's baby daddy, only to be interupted by the terrorist group CAREBEAR and their rainbow-love puff bomb.

Just kidding. Lorenzo has way too much pride for that.

Nightcrawler
April 3, 2007, 10:11 AM
DUDE! You gave it away! For crying out loud, we're going to have to change it now. You know how long it took me to come up with the sinister organization CAREBEAR? How many cans of Rockstar? (18% less than the lethal dose!)

CAREBEAR poisions the world, spreading their Commie "sharing" idea and forcing it down the throats of liberty-loving people everywhere.

Well, they were, anyway, but Larry can't keep things on the downlow, so we're going to have to scrap the whole thing.

Onto Plan B: Valentine and Lorenzo are once again thrown together, this time having to take care of a little baby girl while facing the challenges of everyday life! Can they get along in the suburbs? Stay tuned for Book III, The Thief, the Merc, and a Little Lady.

ANYway...

My favorite scene of Larry's was when Lorenzo was watching the videotape of Dead 6 in Adar's house. The ensuing commentary was hillarious, and I love it when our characters rip on each other. :D

It's like a buddy flick without the buddies!

Jac
April 3, 2007, 11:58 AM
Favorite Character: Hmm... Tough one. Hawk's pretty cool, of course. Ling's all hot and scary.:p Hard to choose.

Favorite Scene: Austin cracking that guy upside the head with his bat. I like it when "normal" people do that kind of thing for their friends. Of course, I always get a kick out of "Hi, welcome to Applebee's!"

Favorite line: "Mike, I am never going anywhere with you again!":D

the naked prophet
April 3, 2007, 01:25 PM
You wanna be in the story, you gotta take your lumps. One solid rule about the 'Crawlerverse is that everything breaks, gets shot, explodes, or has something happen to it eventually.

I dunno, I think those cows survived just fine. :neener:

ilcylic
April 3, 2007, 04:32 PM
My favorite line in this one was easily "Everybody's good at something."

In fact, I've already quoted it at other people.

I'll have to re-read #2 to find a favorite part from that.

Jac
April 3, 2007, 04:34 PM
I dunno, I think those cows survived just fine.:neener:
Don't be so sure... ol' Bessie may've had a heart attack after seeing a yellow sports car hurtling toward her at ~100mph.

At the very least, she'll never give fresh milk again.;)

Correia
April 3, 2007, 04:35 PM
Favorite line from #2?

This was it. I put my hand out, palm down. “Thanks, guys.”

Reaper put his on top of mine. “Anytime, chief.”

Bob followed suit. “No problem, bro.”

Nightcrawler looked at us incredulously. "What the ****? What is this? Oh my God. You're serious, aren't you?" A moment later, grinning, he stuck his hand on the pile. "Power of HEART!" he exclaimed. "Go Captain Planet!"

txgho1911
April 3, 2007, 07:14 PM
MHI we are going to ask for a special thread for Larry's daily update and reflections on what the wait is doing to us.

Glock22
April 3, 2007, 07:34 PM
One of my favorite parts is when they do the knife check and and Valentine, Jeff and Corwin take out their knives and stab them into the table.

mort
April 3, 2007, 10:23 PM
The best scene ever will be in Book III, when the time machine malfunctions, and NC has to save the princess from the dinosaur people, while Lorenzo is being DNA tested to see if he is Anna Nicole's baby daddy, only to be interupted by the terrorist group CAREBEAR and their rainbow-love puff bomb.

Just kidding. Lorenzo has way too much pride for that.

Hold on there chief, the Carebears are not a terrorist organization. We... uh I mean they are just a bunch of guys who enjoy a good shoot after work.


ETA.

Rainbow-love puff bomb? Excellent i've been wondering what I should call that thing. And they thought I was mad when I spec'd peeps in the design doc. Muahahahahahahahah.

Geronimo45
April 3, 2007, 10:27 PM
"The best scene ever will be in Book III, when the time machine malfunctions, and NC has to save the princess from the dinosaur people, while Lorenzo is being DNA tested to see if he is Anna Nicole's baby daddy, only to be interupted by the terrorist group CAREBEAR and their rainbow-love puff bomb."
More! More! Does Geraldo Rivera appear? Does Valentine turn out to be Gecko45? Is Hawk really Gunkid (whose recent arrest was a government conspiracy to recruit him again)?
Tell us more!

Nightcrawler
April 4, 2007, 12:47 AM
That is the first time that Valentine loses it.

It won't be the last. Everyone has their limits. ;)

FORBOOOOOODE....

bad LT
April 4, 2007, 04:52 AM
Originally posted by Correia

Favorite line from #2?


Quote:
This was it. I put my hand out, palm down. “Thanks, guys.”

Reaper put his on top of mine. “Anytime, chief.”

Bob followed suit. “No problem, bro.”

Nightcrawler looked at us incredulously. "What the ****? What is this? Oh my God. You're serious, aren't you?" A moment later, grinning, he stuck his hand on the pile. "Power of HEART!" he exclaimed. "Go Captain Planet!"


Thats also my favorite line from these stories:D

springmom
April 10, 2007, 01:22 PM
AWESOME!

Well done. And well worth waiting for. Of course, I got it all in one chunk, as I've been gone since the beginning of Lent and just back this morning. And yes, NC, I read the whole thing in one morning.

I too thought the cow was hilarious. It's the mundane things that will get you, every time.

BTW: Larry, the plural of "fly"... is "flies". I can't comment on the Spanish vs. Portuguese linguistics, as I am hopelessly foreign language disabled, but English spelling, yes. And where the heck is MHI anyway?????

Again, Nightcrawler, well done. Whatever else you do with your life, keep writing!

Springmom

Correia
April 10, 2007, 01:36 PM
Thank you.

I know about flies, flys, but that is the beauty of internet fiction where you crank out 1,000 words in 30 minutes and slap that sucker up. :)

MHI is being revamped to the specifications of a really big publisher that has shown quite a bit of interest. They like it a lot, but want a few plot points changed. So it is still out there, and if they end up rejecting it, then off to the self-publisher.

txgho1911
April 10, 2007, 09:20 PM
I know I am not the only one who has been bugging the *&^% out of Larry for a date this is available.

NC wrote a lil teaser in here somewhere after he read his own personal autographed copy of MHI. He put his own flavor into it so I am sure the scifi, fantasy buffs among us will have no problem immersing into the story and characters.

Nightcrawler
April 11, 2007, 04:49 AM
NC wrote a lil teaser in here somewhere after he read his own personal autographed copy of MHI.

You mean the gangly, double-spaced .doc file Correia e-mailed me? :D

Yeah, that was my halloween story. Just a little blurb 'cause I was bored. :cool:

I'm not giving ANY teasers for Book III. I gave plenty for Book I. Book III will shock and awe you, my friends. Just you wait...

fiVe
April 11, 2007, 12:40 PM
NC, can you or Correia give us a estimate (even a hint) of when the rewrite of #2 will be done? (.....tryin' not to be impatient)

clipse
April 11, 2007, 04:59 PM
Very nice. This absolutely killed my productivity at work for the last two days. I can't wait for the Book II rewrite and book III. :)

Correia
April 11, 2007, 05:16 PM
No set date for the rewrite of II, or the serialized unveiling of III.

III isn't written at all yet. We're going to write it on the fly again, but this time we're going to at least plan ahead, because it is the end of the Nightcrawler Trilogy, and we don't want to screw it up. :)

MHI is being rewritten to the specifications of a big publishing house. They like it, but want a few things changed. Fingers crossed, and if rejected this last time, it will be self published.

txgho1911
April 11, 2007, 05:21 PM
I know I have told you before. Larry, You need a few more people to proof read it before you send it out.

Consistently persistent bordering on badgering.

Texfire
April 15, 2007, 08:45 PM
Nicely done once again gentlemen. You use your "pen" like Valentine uses his FAL, with equal parts skills and ferocity.

Tex

MrPeter
April 30, 2007, 07:32 PM
Oh man, I just got all this in one chunk, and have effectively been rendered enitrely ineffective for one day's worth of work. Thanks. :)

The more I read your work NightCrawler, the more I want a FAL just like Valentines!
hmmmmmm... :D

Nightcrawler
April 30, 2007, 09:32 PM
the more I want a FAL just like Valentines!

His works better than mine! :cuss:

(Since being converted from a standard STG-58 to a 16.25" franken-carbine, I've been slowly but surely working the bugs out of mine. One trip to a smith fixed most of the problems with gas pressure and gas piston binding, but I'm still having some reliability problems. I can't figure out of it's the ammo I'm using (I have a bad lot of South African; inconsistent recoil is never a good sign) or something else, and it's driving me up the wall.

All the same, everyone who shot my carbine at the FBMG shoot really liked it. I'll get it running like a singer again, I've just got to keep tweaking it. :cool:

Grampa
July 11, 2007, 06:25 PM
I scanned the last few pages, and didn't spot if someone had consolidated this story into a document as yet. Someone have it that could either post a link or have available to email? With appropriate approval, of course!

:)

Correia
July 11, 2007, 06:33 PM
I don't think anyone has, other than just cut and pasted it into Word.

NC and I are working on Book III now. It will be posted here. Then we're going to put the whole thing out there. The downloadable version will be free. The one with the extras, deleted scenes, art work, etc. will cost a little bit of money.

Why? Because I've always wanted to release a DVD. :)

Bill2k1
July 11, 2007, 09:13 PM
Well I have read all of it in one sitting, can't believe I missed this thread for so long.

I loved the Applebees scene, I was expecting this total badass dark parking lot theme and boom! I can say for sure that I did not see that coming at all. I really liked Hawk, he reminds me of Shannon in The Dogs of War. Maybe you didn't intend that, but all really smooth mercenary types make me think of him. It was a very awesome read!

Geronimo45
July 11, 2007, 09:41 PM
NC and I are working on Book III now. It will be posted here.
Any idea when that's likely to be?

Correia
July 12, 2007, 09:53 AM
Sorry man, I appreciate you putting that up, but Nightcrawler asked me to delete it. I think he's not totally happy with this one, and wants to change some stuff before it gets floated all over.

Sorry.

Edited to explain, Ravenslair put of a zip file of all of the story.

Nightcrawler
July 12, 2007, 10:45 AM
I apologize to Ravenslair. I really do appreciate the support.

Correia is right, however. There's still a lot of synchronizing going on. I'm editing this story and am writing two others at the same time. The final product will be released all at once, after we finish posting the third installment here online.

In the meantime, I'd prefer people come here to read the story. Oleg was kind enough to let me do this here and bringing traffic and a few new members to THR is the least I can do in return. Plus, a downloaded version like that won't have my copyright info on it, and I'd prefer that not be floating around the 'net.

I will do my best to ensure that the final product is worth the wait. I can't give a time frame, I'm afraid. I'm about 10% done with the rewrite of Book II and we're probably 5% done with Book III. All said and done, the total trilogy will likely be close to five hundred pages of ten-point Arial font, single spaced, in Microsoft Word. :cool:

How about a preview?

That’s when I saw her. There was a young woman, my age or close to it, sitting across from me against the port side of the fuselage. She was wearing jeans and a black jacket, with long auburn hair draped over her shoulders, as she examined something she held in her hands. It was a pair of military dog tags, held around her neck by the standard beaded chain. She cupped them in her hands and stared at them, as if lost in thought or prayer.

She looked up, and for the briefest of moments we made eye contact. I quickly looked away as the plane banked steeply to the right. We touched down a few minutes later.

I squinted in the light as the cargo ramp slowly lowered, and came to realize that wherever we were, it was a lot warmer than Minneapolis. More crewmen appeared and began to herd us out into the daylight. The speed with which we unassed the plane served to confirm my suspicion that most of the people around me were military.

Slinging my duffel bag over my shoulder, I looked around. We were in the desert someplace, and it looked like an Air Force Base. There were uniformed military types surrounding us, though they were keeping a distance. A Humvee off to my right covered us with a belt-fed, and two police cars marked “Security Police” were parked near it. I didn’t have much time to gawk, though. Three white Suburbans followed by two large busses pulled to a stop near the C-130. The busses’ doors opened as several men got out of the SUVs. Most of the men had that “military contractor” look; khaki 5.11-brand cargo pants and vests, sunglasses, body armor, and slung M4 carbines. One of the men was an older guy with an eye patch. He wore jeans, cowboy boots, and a tan shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and was conversing with a slick looking guy in a suit as they approached. I recognized the guy in the suit as Gordon Willis.

All seventy-or-so of us clustered together, able to talk to each other for the first time. By this point I really had to piss and wish they’d get on with whatever the hell they were going to do. Gordon and the eye patch guy approached the group, flanked by two of the scowling contractors.

“Listen up!” Gordon said at last, not removing his expensive-looking sunglasses. “You’re all going to board these busses. We’ll be taking you to our training facility. You will be required to uphold your end of the agreement that I’ve made with each of you. If you try to escape, or attack one of my men, or do anything stupid, you’ll regret it.”

“What he means is,” the man with the eye patch said in a raspy voice, “If you **** with me you’ll end up dead. I’m Colonel Hunter, and I’m the boss.

fiVe
July 12, 2007, 11:14 AM
It will absolutely be worth the wait. Thanks, NC & Correia (hurry as comfortably as possible.)

Glock22
July 12, 2007, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the preview, I am looking forward to the Third part of the Trilogy.

Ravenslair
July 12, 2007, 06:41 PM
Correia and Nightcrawler,

Sorry to put that up without asking. Just trying to help out. I will await the final product(s)! Thanks for the stories.

Ravenslair

Correia
July 13, 2007, 09:49 AM
No apology neccesary. I appreciate you doing it.

We just want to do a really good job with the final release. We've got some cool ideas in store.

Ravenslair
July 20, 2007, 03:12 AM
Sounds good. I cannot wait to see the finished product.

airsmithy
September 19, 2007, 01:36 AM
Damn it! I slip away again for a few months, and I find out I missed THIS!!!! Bad, BAD Dave! Naughty, evil, NASTY Dave! There's nothing for it but... no shooting for Dave till he eats all his brussel sprouts!!!

Nightcrawler, Wonderful work! I look forward to the rerelease of two, and the first release of three!

Corria, Good stuff!

Both of you: Thanks for sharing your tallents, and giving so much joy to so many paranoid delusional gun toting tinfoil hat wearing goofs!

I tip my tinfoil hat in your direction!

Dave

10 Ring Tao
September 19, 2007, 03:32 AM
C'mon already, give me something I can put in my ebook reader so I can read the whole shebang together during downtime on my phone.

Nightcrawler
September 19, 2007, 07:28 AM
Book III progress just exceeded 60,000 words and we're only about 1/3rd done with it, if that.

Don't worry. When all of this is finished there'll be plenty of reading. :cool:

txgho1911
September 19, 2007, 09:16 AM
So NC is banging away at the keyboard. Correia is counting the gargoyles instead of shipping the autographed copies of MHI.
I guess we will get over it.

NY'er
September 19, 2007, 09:30 AM
Oh maaaan! :cuss: You guys just teased the h*ll outta me~

I saw the 'new reply posted' message and almost choked on my coffee hoping we'd be getting the good news that the book was done, a teaser, ANYthing.... lolol

Seriously though, been checking in regularly but keeping silent in respect and admiration for both of your excellent writing and imagination, and I cannot wait for the finished story!

Ny'er

Geegolly
September 19, 2007, 10:31 AM
oh wow that sure was a tease.

Keep up the diligent work NC, we are waiting patiently. The wait will be well worth it I'm sure.

Correia
September 19, 2007, 11:47 AM
MHI will be along shortly. :)

Looks like I'll be taking preorders in October. The first part will be posted on my blog in the next couple of weeks.

NC and I are working on the third and final Mr. Nightcrawler book right now. It is coming along great. I've got to say that it is going to be epic.

LiquidTension
September 19, 2007, 01:10 PM
I hope you're not going to post the third book here - I don't want to lose my job due to dereliction of duty.

Correia
September 19, 2007, 01:11 PM
Yep, it will be posted here, serial form, just like last time. I'll also be cross posting it to my blog.

Now, MHI will be an actual book. With pages. :)

KHAN
September 19, 2007, 01:14 PM
Can't wait. Nightcrawler, are you still planning on emailing the finished product to those who pm'd you? Just curious. Thanks for entertaining us!

Nightcrawler
September 19, 2007, 07:16 PM
Nightcrawler, are you still planning on emailing the finished product to those who pm'd you? Just curious.

Absolutely. It'll take awhile, but after all three finished stories are posted online, everyone on my "list" will receive the complete set for their home consumption and distribution.

Nightcrawler
September 19, 2007, 10:27 PM
Okay, here. Because I'm very appreciative of everyone's support, here's a preview of Book III. It's the only preview I'm going to give, too. The rest of the book is going to be epic; I don't want to spoil it. Correia, forgive me! :D

************


Blackness turned to light as my eyes slowly opened. I couldn't see anything except light, and I felt groggy. I couldn't remember what I had been doing last. Trying to gather my thoughts, I focused on the light and tried to remember.

Where am I? The beginnings of panic silently gnawed at me as I desperately tried to remember. Why can't I see anything? My eyes refused to focus. The light had turned pale blue, but I could make out no details.

From somewhere in the distance, I thought I could hear people speaking. It sounded muffled and faint, though, as if I were listening through a wall. Is someone there? God, please help me. I can't move. I can't see. I'm scared.

Before the panic could overtake me entirely, I felt a dull pain in my right shoulder. At least, I thought it was my right shoulder. It felt like something had poked me, but I couldn't be sure. Try as I might, I couldn't seem to move, nor could I get my eyes to open.

Am I dead? Am I in Hell? Strange thoughts rattled around in my sluggish mind as I desperately tried to remember something, anything besides the here and now. I don't know how long had passed, but the dull pain in my arm suddenly became sharp, and burning. My heart began to pound, faster and faster, harder and harder. It felt like blood was rushing to my head, and suddenly my eyes snapped open.

The blue was my own lap. I was wearing blue sweats and white tennis shoes with no laces. I tilted my head back and, eyes squinting in blinding fluorescent light, took in a deep, gasping breath.

My eyes began to focus, but things were still blurry. Where are my glasses? I lowered my head and realized that I wasn't alone after all. Two scowling men in black fatigues flanked a tall, thin, pale woman who sat cross-legged in a chair directly in front of me. I realized that I was either tied or handcuffed to a chair, and that my legs were tied together. A polygraph machine was attached to my right arm, and the needle was scratching away, the sound audible over the incessant buzz of fluorescent lights.

"Welcome back, Mr. Valentine," she said coldly.

"Dr. Silvers," I croaked, memories flooding back into my mind. Dr. Olivia Silvers. Psychologist. Interrogator. Bitch. "Why am I tied to a chair? Did I miss something fun?" She rolled her eyes at my pathetic attempt at defiant humor.

"We're going to have another chat, Mr. Valentine."

"I told you yesterday, I don't know anything else."

"Yesterday?"

"Yeah, yesterday. When we did this last time."

"Mr. Valentine, that wasn't yesterday. That was over a week ago."

"What?" She smiled. Her smile was as cold as ice, and her pale blue eyes were hard.

"Yes…I'm afraid that you've got some considerable gaps in your memory, Mr. Valentine.

"What…" My mouth fell open. "What the **** are you people doing to me? I told you I don't know anything! I DON'T KNOW!" The needle on the polygraph flailed wildly as I yelled.

"What am I doing to you, Mr. Valentine? You're doing this to yourself. Honestly, there's no reason for it. You're not accomplishing anything. You're not protecting anyone. All you're doing is making things harder for you."

"Look," I said, trying to keep calm, "I only know what was on the flash drive that Hunter gave me. I don't know anything else."

"I wish I could believe that, Mr. Valentine, but you've already told us a great deal more under chemical influence. You really need to stop lying to me."

"I don't know what you're talking about!" I said, unable to hide the desperation in my voice. "The only other thing he told me was some woman's name!"

"So he did tell you other things then? Did you not just tell me that you didn't know anything else?"

"I already told you the name! Her name is Evangeline! I don't know…"

"Mr. Valentine," she said icily, cutting me off, "you're lying to me again. You know what happens when you tell lies."

"I'M NOT LYING!" She ignored me.

"Mr. Smoot?" she said. The man to her right, Smoot, nodded at her, then looked at me, grinning. He pulled an aluminum side-handle baton off of his belt, and raised it in his gloved hand. He swung sideways, hitting me in the stomach, and causing the chair to slide backwards and nearly tip over.

Pain shot through me, and I doubled over. They had my arms handcuffed behind the chair so tightly that my arms were nearly dislocated, though; I couldn't move.

"WAIT!" I wheezed, but Smoot ignored me and struck me again. If I'd had any food in my stomach, I would've thrown up.

"I'm going to ask you again," Dr. Silvers said, brushing a wayward strand of silver-blonde hair out of her face. "What is Project BLUE? What is the Alpha Point?"

"I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!" I screamed.

"Stop lying to me, Mr. Valentine," she said, looking bored. "You've already told us about Evangeline. You've already told us that other DEAD SIX personnel made it out of Saradia. I'm not about to believe that with everything Colonel Hunter divulged to you that he made no mention of BLUE."

"I DON'T KNOW! I DON'T KNOW!" I screamed again, voice raspy. God damn it. I didn't know how long I'd been there. I tried so hard to keep quiet, to not tell them anything, but they used drugs on me. I didn't remember any of it, but I knew that I'd been telling them things and then forgetting when they used the drugs on me. I knew they'd been keeping me sedated as well. I didn't know what 'Blue' was, nor what the 'Alpha Point' meant. Why won't she believe me?

Dr. Silvers and her compatriots had subjected me to all manner of interrogation techniques. The drugs she kept shooting me up with affected my memory so badly that I could barely recall, but I knew that I'd been beaten, shocked, left out in the cold, deprived of sleep, deprived of food, and mauled by a German Shepherd. I was skinny, pale, weak, and shaking.

Smoot put his baton away and removed his taser. I cringed, knowing what was coming next. Pain, incredible pain, shot through me and he touched the prongs to my neck. I tried to scream, but my jaw was clenched shut. Blood, snot, and spit gurgled out of my mouth and my nose, and tears streamed down my face. I could feel my bladder let go, but I was so dehydrated that I didn't have any urine to piss myself with. He held the taser on my neck for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he withdrew it, and I gasped again, coughing, desperately trying to breathe.

Before I could catch my breath, a gleaming combat boot impacted me in the chest. Smoot's kick sent the chair flying over backwards, and pain shot through me again as my head hit the concrete floor and my bound hands were smashed under the weight of my own body.

I just laid there, no longer possessed of the will to move. The Calm no longer came. They'd broken me. I'd told them everything I knew, and they still wouldn't believe me. They were going to keep torturing me until I died.

"That's enough, Smoot," I heard Dr. Silvers say. "Reilly, sedate him again. Tomorrow we'll start getting the sensory deprivation tank set up."

"Do you really think he knows anything else?" I heard one of the men ask, as I started to drift out of consciousness.

"Probably not," she replied. "But we've gone through all this trouble, we might as well be sure."

I felt another sharp prick in my shoulder as despair overtook me again. I began to fade away. Tears welled up in my eyes again. God, please let me die…

sm
September 19, 2007, 11:00 PM
How is it we are here, on this path we walk,
In this world of pointless fear, filled with empty talk,
Descending from the apes as scientist-priests all think,
Will they save us in the end, we're trembling on the brink.-

Artist Name - Moody Blues

Song Lyrics - How Is It (We Are Here)

larry_minn
September 19, 2007, 11:34 PM
Thanks for hint. Can't wait for payback.

Glock22
September 19, 2007, 11:55 PM
Bravo! I cannot wait for the finished product. :D

clipse
September 20, 2007, 09:51 AM
Holy CRAP!!!! :D

LiquidTension
September 20, 2007, 10:04 AM
Oooh that woman would be tortured for months after I got my hands on her. I wouldn't even ask her any questions. My nonexistent character in the story, I mean.

Correia
September 20, 2007, 11:38 AM
Well, if Nightcrawler is going to put up a sample of book III, I probably should too:

“Welcome to St. Carl!” The waitress said with extra cheer. Those simple words got my attention. St. Carl was a small enough island that anyone who wasn’t a regular got that greeting, especially during the off season, when tourists were few, and the staff were hungry for tips. The room was kept dark, in sharp contrast to the bright Caribbean sunshine trying to force its way through the now open entrance. The lunch patrons were sitting in a few tight clusters, mostly workers from the nearby docks, and a handful of others, all of whom I recognized, but I did not know the three newcomers standing in the doorway.

The lead was a striking woman of Asian descent, dressed casually, but not casually enough to pass for a St. Carl resident. Her black eyes were scanning across the room, looking for something, or someone. She was flanked by two brutes, one short Chinese guy, built like a cage fighter, and the other, a black man, so tall he almost had to duck to get through the door, with a shaved head and more muscle than a side of beef.

Tourists, my ass. The door closed behind the three, plunging the room back into a nice, muted grey. I like grey. People like me just kind of fade away. I went back to my lunch, enjoying the spices, and the ache in my muscles. Unable to go back to sleep this morning, I had put in an extra hard work out. I wasn’t close to my peak, but I had still managed to do a couple hundred pull-ups, several hundred push-ups, and thirty minutes straight on an eighty pound punching bag. Not bad for a guy pushing forty.

The woman said something, quietly enough that I couldn’t hear, and the waitress waved them towards the bar. I noted that the woman kept scanning, always looking, dividing the room into quadrants, and giving every occupant a once over. She made eye contact with me, but I just kept chewing my food like any other slack jawed yokel, just another nebulous face in the crowd, just everyman, not worthy of any attention. Or at least that was the ability that I had developed over my lifetime.

On the other hand, I was a master of reading people. It was a gift. Two seconds of eye contact told me everything that I needed to know about her. She was a killer, and she was hard. But I didn’t get the vibe that she was here to kill anyone in particular. She was here on business.

The woman broke away, and headed for the bar. She stopped while the tall man pulled a wicker stool out and waited for her to sit. She crossed her legs gracefully, smiled at the bartender like a lion would smile at a gazelle, and placed several folded pieces of currency onto the bar. She beckoned him closer, conspiratorially, and started asking questions. The bartender, always a sucker for a pretty girl, took the money, scratched his head, looked around the room, shrugged, and pointed right at me.

So it begins again.

The woman stood, delicately adjusted her blouse, and walked toward me. Her men took up positions at the bar, still close enough to shoot me if necessary. I waited for her to approach, the weight of my .45 reassuring on my belt under my untucked cotton shirt.

She stopped, hovering next to my table, while I nonchalantly finished my larb. Why Thai food in a hole in the wall restaurant, on a fly speck island, in the middle of nowhere? Because I said so.

Of course the bartender knew me. I own this place. I own this whole island.

“Are you Lorenzo?” She asked politely in perfectly nuanced English. Such a mundane statement seemed vaguely threatening when she said it.

I made her wait while I took a long drink of water. Most everything I ate was seasoned to be lethally hot. “At times,” I replied, pushing my dish away, and wiping my mouth on a napkin. “Have a seat.”

She did. I waited. It had been a year since anyone other than my wife had called me that name on St. Carl.

“My name is Song-Ling. I have need of your services.” She got right down to business.

“You must’ve not gotten the memo. I’m retired,” I answered. She ignored me, reached slowly into a pocket and pulled out a business size envelope.

“You will want to see this.” She held it out to me, her blood red fingernails bright over the white paper.

It had been two years since I had been forced into my last job. Strangely enough, it too had started with a messenger giving me an envelope, though Ling was far more attractive than the psychotic Fat Man that had served Big Eddie Montalban. That particular envelope had been filled with information on my extended family and threats against their lives. I had pulled off one of the most daring heists of my career, but the costs had been far too high. Too many people, friends and enemies both, had died because of the contents of that last envelope.

I didn’t take it.

“Miss Ling, I’m sorry that you came all this way for nothing, but I’m not interested.” I pushed back my chair and stood. I could see both of Ling’s goons tense up. “I hope you enjoy your stay on St. Carl, the rock shrimp really is wonderful this time of year, and have a nice trip home.”

“Bob said you would react like this.” She didn’t even look at me. She placed the envelope on the table and spun it. “I didn’t pick you out of the crowd. You look nothing at all like your brother. I was expecting a man of greater... stature.”

I paused. That would explain how she found me. Son of a bitch.

“I was a foster kid.” I sat back down. The envelope sat between us. Ling didn’t speak. I had been correct in my earlier assessment. She was a hard one. “How do you know Bob?” For some reason she didn’t strike me as the type of person that ran in the same social circles as my straight-laced, honorable, FBI agent, older brother.

She opened the envelope and pulled out a torn paper napkin. It had been written on with black ink. She shoved it toward me.

“He gave this to me, right before he was chased down, beaten unconscious, and taken away by very evil men. That was seventy-two hours ago. I do not know if he is alive or dead.”

“What?” I blurted. I had spoken to him on the phone less than a week ago. I snatched the napkin from her. I recognized the blocky handwriting.

HECTOR – NEED HELP. REMEMBER Q? THEY KNOW.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME.

HE IS IN REACH.

HE IS THE KEY.

ONLY YOU CAN SAVE HIM.

The bottom half of the napkin was missing, torn off.

Q? Quagmire. Quagmire, Nevada. They know? Eddie’s dead. His organization is destroyed. Gordon... The shadow government types. They must have found out about Bob helping us in Quagmire. Oh no.

“Who’s in reach? What does that mean?”

“Reach is an abandoned Air Force radar station in Montana. It is now used by a covert organization within the United States Government. It serves as a secret prison and interrogation center. I’m here to offer you a trade, Mr. Lorenzo. You help me rescue someone from this facility, and I’ll give you all of the information I can to help you find your brother. We will lend you our full assistance and allow you to use our intelligence network to this end.”

“Where’s the second half of Bob’s note?” I fingered the torn edge of the napkin.

“It is stored someplace far away. I do not know the location.”

“What does the rest of the note say?”

“I do not know, nor do my men, so it will be futile for you to attempt to find out from us, but it will be given to you after my superiors have evidence that you have helped us.”

I could feel the anger bubbling to the surface, the same killing anger that I had used for so long, the same evil that I had kept locked up, and thrown into the deepest darkest well of my mind for the last year. “How about you tell me where my brother is right now, or I cut your eyes out?” I hissed. Her men sensed the change, and started to rise from the bar, hands moving under their shirts.

Ling didn’t flinch. She casually raised her hand, and her goons grudgingly lowered themselves. The rest of the patrons kept eating, unaware that for a split second the room had teetered on the edge of a gunfight.

“Read your brother’s words. That isn’t what he wants. This is bigger than your brother. Greater than you, than me, than all of us.” She spoke with the sincerity of a true believer, and those were the most dangerous kind of all. Ling pulled the second and final item from the envelope. It was a photograph.

“Do you know this man, Mr. Lorenzo?” I looked at the picture.

“Yeah... I know him.”

Ling leaned forward, and stabbed her fingernail into the photo. “One life for another. Your brother is an honorable man, Mr. Lorenzo. I want no harm to come for him. Right now, my people are doing everything they can to locate him. But your brother insisted that finding him was more important. Please. We need your help.”

The picture was old. A young man with glasses wasn’t quite looking at the camera, stupid grin on his face. He held up a bottle of water and had a Band-Aid on his forehead. He looked younger, almost happy. Not torn down and broken and…empty would be the word. He didn’t even have the scars I’d given him.

Nightcrawler.

Jamie C.
September 20, 2007, 11:51 AM
Correia... Nightcrawler... you two are just plain mean.

You're waggin' a bottle of good Jamaican rum under the noses of a bunch of alcoholics here... and only lettin' 'em smell the cork.

It's just cruel, I tell ya.... :(



J.C.

NY'er
September 20, 2007, 01:14 PM
..true, but we love every minute of it!

The anticipation from releasing just a little at a time really keeps us on the edge of our chairs, and something tells me we're in for another wild ride!

fiVe
September 20, 2007, 04:07 PM
Wow! Great teasers, and we should not be surprised. The Nightcrawler/Correia team isn't using the term epic for nothin'. It will no doubt be another great work. Take your time, guys....get it done just right....but please hurry!! :D

Rey B
September 20, 2007, 04:09 PM
Let the ride begin!:evil:

Flintlock Tom
September 20, 2007, 04:47 PM
No, No, No, I have work to do and I cannot be hanging around here reading the teasers or checking for updates...so...when do you think we'll have some more to read?

Jamie C.
September 20, 2007, 04:51 PM
Oh yeah, I almost forgot.... I had a thought about this one:
Oooh that woman would be tortured for months after I got my hands on her. I wouldn't even ask her any questions. My nonexistent character in the story, I mean.


LT, I'm figurin' Dr. Bitch is gonna last just about 3 seconds, once Ling gets her hands on her. :p;)

It should be loads of fun to "watch". :evil::evil::evil:



J.C.

fslflint
September 30, 2007, 02:52 PM
wow, what has happenned since I've been gone? lol,

I followed along when nightcrawler first wrote of his exploits, then again when he wrote tails from the road. then I'm caruzing a forum that I haven't been to in forever (THR) and BANG!!! I see it.

needless to say I just pulled an allnighter last night, went to bed at 6am just tryin to get cought up on the 'Welcome Back, Mr Nightcrawler' story. then I find this thread.

boy I've been out of it for a while

thanks again NC

G36-UK
September 30, 2007, 03:09 PM
I really hate it when we get delicious snippets of stuff we're waiting on.
This is more torture than the TGS trailers of Metal Gear Solid 4.

I love you guys.

Bainx
September 30, 2007, 03:35 PM
my God, this whole thing is so boring, so tiresome so longwinded. To the author: Can you possibly write something more concise and to the point. I was falling asleep trying to read your ad-naseum write....

Please...............

Can I play Pick-Up-Sticks with someone?

ndh87
October 1, 2007, 02:50 AM
Cant wait to read the rest of it. You guys do some great work.

Correia
October 1, 2007, 03:12 PM
my God, this whole thing is so boring, so tiresome so longwinded. To the author: Can you possibly write something more concise and to the point. I was falling asleep trying to read your ad-naseum write.... 24 thousand hits on this one, 102 thousand on Book II, and several hundred people who sent e-mails to Nightcrawler to get on his mailing list for when he does a complete PDF, a couple hundred positive reviews, including professional writers and English professors, of what is basically an improv rough draft, and then one negative review which doesn't get specific enough to indicate if the reviewer actually read it or not...

I'm pretty sure Nightcrawler will somehow manage to carry on past your highly acerbic "wit". NC might need to water his Crying Pillow (it smells like wildflowers and shame) but I think he'll carry on. :)

tkkr
October 1, 2007, 03:23 PM
these are kind of like the creasy series of books from AJ quinnell (man on fire)

G36-UK
October 1, 2007, 06:58 PM
24 thousand hits on this one, 102 thousand on Book II, and several hundred people who sent e-mails to Nightcrawler to get on his mailing list for when he does a complete PDF, a couple hundred positive reviews, including professional writers and English professors, of what is basically an improv rough draft, and then one negative review which doesn't get specific enough to indicate if the reviewer actually read it or not...


You forgot the number of people who wanted to buy a published copy.

M_Olson
October 1, 2007, 07:03 PM
and several hundred people who sent e-mails to Nightcrawler to get on his mailing list for when he does a complete PDF

is it too late to still do this? if not whats the email address i need to write to?

Correia
October 1, 2007, 07:33 PM
Click on Nightcrawler's profile and send him an e-mail.

springmom
October 1, 2007, 08:42 PM
my God, this whole thing is so boring, so tiresome so longwinded. To the author: Can you possibly write something more concise and to the point. I was falling asleep trying to read your ad-naseum write....

Please...............

Can I play Pick-Up-Sticks with someone?

:barf::barf::barf::barf::barf::barf::barf::barf::barf::barf::barf:

Oh, well, I never pay any attention to any other critics either.

Springmom

M_Olson
October 2, 2007, 12:01 AM
Click on Nightcrawler's profile and send him an e-mail.

unfortunately, it appears he has the email function disabled. i suppose ill try a pm.

The Instrumental
July 26, 2008, 06:26 AM
Whoops. I didn't mean to hit the post button. :o:banghead:

SwampFox
July 26, 2008, 11:36 AM
"Could they have sent me to a worse place? This was very often Rob's first thought in the morning. West Texas just did not suit the delinquent who had grown up prowling the streets of Jersey, Denver, Chicago and wherever else he could get to on a Greyhound. The energy of large cities had made him tick for years and years, and here he was in Bravo-Foxtrot Texas, with nothing but desert, oil and West Texans for miles and miles. At least the sports were good, he did have that consolation. But these people freaked out about them, taking fanaticism to a level previously unexperienced by Rob."

Idunno, it sounds like a good start.:D

Silvanus
July 26, 2008, 12:18 PM
I think (I'm pretty sure actually) I read all the "Nightcrawler" stuff that's been posted so far, but I have a rather short memory... Can somebody explain to me what has been released so far? Only "Book 1"? Or how far has the story proceeded so far?

The only thing I can remember is that I loved it and would like to receive the complete PDF if NC has finished it :D

Also, where does the story start? I would like to reread it to freshen up my memory.

crebralfix
July 26, 2008, 12:33 PM
Yeah, I was so bored. He didn't have enough firearms technical data in the story. I really felt he should have gone off on a dissertation regarding the virtues of the 7.62x51mm round fired from a FAL at short range into a human body. Clearly, NC didn't do enough research! ;)

The Instrumental
July 26, 2008, 12:53 PM
Idunno, it sounds like a good start.
Haha, I was trying to start that without anyone noticing, swamp. I chronically start stories without finishing them and I didn't want to waste space, and certainly not in someone else's thread. Too bad I got caught.

D94R
August 7, 2009, 02:12 PM
Almost 2 years since the posted previews of Book III. Did it come to fruition? I can't find it by searching. Or was there a reason posted somewhere explaining the massive delay?

TOTC
August 7, 2009, 04:47 PM
If you go read Larry's blog, Nightcrawler is right now on active duty. He says it's slowly coming.

Correia
August 8, 2009, 09:56 AM
Mike is on active duty, so that's been messing with us.

Now that I'm an actual professional published author-type-person, we're going to go for the gold, clean it up, and sell these as a trilogy of novels.

Dead Six
Swords of Exodus
Project Blue

My half of D6 is done and SoE is mostly done. Mike is about 75% of the way through his half of D6, but he's busy serving right now, but we will get them done, and published.

D94R
August 8, 2009, 05:20 PM
Very well. I figured in the back of my mind he was active again. I was hooked instantly and they helped pass a few days of slow work hours reading them here and there. Can't wait for the finish.

Sunspot
August 8, 2009, 09:34 PM
I should visit here more often, I missed the NC thread. I remember “Lights out” by Halfast. It was a very good read.

Can someone point me to the start of one of the completed stories?

Correia, I saw the book MHI listed at Amazon. It’s linked to a John Ringo novel. Very good company indeed.

Correia
August 9, 2009, 12:34 PM
Sunspot, the big one is here on THR, titled Welcome Back Mr. Nightcrawler. If you plug that in the search, it should come up.

Mandolin
August 25, 2009, 10:13 PM
Any movie version would be rated R (too bad, but the book is INCREDABLY violent, among other things) and would, i think, be Blood Diamond meets the Bourne series, meets Punisher meets other very violent movies.

Edit: one small inacuracy is that the BTR is armed with a 12.7 or 14.5mm MG in the turret, not the 37mm you gave it. Howevr, considering that it's a third-hand APC in Africa, the 37mm might have been obtained from and old MiG (MiG 15 or MiG 17) and shoehorned into the turret. just a thought.

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